“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked.”
- Margaret Wise Brown
What ever happened to just sitting around at home? Is it just me – or does everyone seem really flipping busy these days? And when does really busy become too busy?
As parents, it is our job to provide opportunities for our children. We want them to try new things, fail at them, learn from failing, try more things, and ultimately find the thing that makes them happy.
But do they really need to try all the things? Like, at the same time?
In our modern world, the way I see it, we’re battling a pandemic of busy-ness.
Listen, I understand wanting your kids to explore varied interests to become well-rounded humans. But I also think it’s important for our kids to know the slowness and the fresh-baked smells and safety of home.
I participated in a lot of things, but I still had dinner around the table – albeit the coffee table at our house. We sprawled comfortably on the living room floor, because that was our thing. (It perplexes my husband, who comes from more formal folk.)
Now that I have a family of my own, we make a point of taking breaks. We take breaks in our day – after school, before activities – and we have dinner together, whether in the drive-thru or the dining room. We make sure we have a few free evenings on the couch, all snuggly and squeaky, before bedtime.
When we need to, we take breaks from extracurriculars. We even take breaks from our social calendar – sometimes in the name of adventure, other times just to be bored together.
To maintain our un-busy-ness, we have a few family rules:
1. We limit activities to two per child per season. (One if we can help it.)
With multiple kids, activities add up. We might do a sport plus a musical instrument. We might do running club, which meets right after class and only extends the school day by 40 minutes. Because my husband travels for work, this also makes my week more manageable, with all the baths and bedtimes, unexpected sicknesses and middle-of-the-nightmares.
2. We won’t be at all the birthday parties.
For friends who are reading this, please (please) take no offense. For the most part, and with exception, we only attend birthday parties of our children’s best buds, which means we might miss hanging out with friends who have kids the same age as ours. It also means we don’t spend entire Saturdays rushing from the zoo to the bounce house to the park. You could spend a lifetime going to all the birthdays.
3. We don’t always say ‘yes.’
Much as you might want to, you can’t say ‘yes’ to every invitation. Harkening back to the sickness and sleepless nights, there’s so much you can’t predict about parenthood. Saying ‘no’ does come with consequences. By being intentional with your time, you might unintentionally hurt people’s feelings. But if you can make peace with having to make peace with others now and again, your life will actually be more peaceful.
For the record, I understand people have different tolerances for busy-ness. This isn’t a tirade on why my parenting style is better (or worse) than anybody else’s. It’s simply what works for us, in a world that thrives on being busy.
If your world is spinning too fast, I encourage you to create some new family rules of your own.